Gov. Greg Abbott was invited to address a joint session of the Texas Senate and House Tuesday morning. He outlined his priorities for the current legislative session, which include a number of emergency items. Emergency items can be taken up earlier in a legislative session than other issues. Education-related highlights of the governor’s speech included:

  • Abbott asserted that too many students are not reading on grade level by the end of third grade, and are not college- or career ready upon graduation. Improving student achievement begins with teachers.
  • He declared that Texas must recruit and retain best and brightest and must pay teachers more, providing incentives to put effective teachers in schools and classrooms where they’re needed. The best teachers should be able to earn six figures.
  • According to Abbott, the Dallas ISD model shows that this strategy works. He visited DISD and met an outstanding teacher in his third year of teaching who was already making more than $90K in salary. Teachers across the state should have same opportunity.
  • He announced that school finance reform and increasing teacher pay are emergency items for this session.
  • Abbott went on to say that it is not enough to provide a better education, but Texas must be able to ensure a safe learning environment. Toward that end, school safety is also an emergency item.
  • To help address mental health services in schools, he declared a proposal by Sen. Jane Nelson, which creates a statewide mental health consortium to provide collaboration on statewide mental health needs (including those of school-aged children) as another emergency item.
  • Abbott announced that property tax reform is also an emergency item.